Category Archives: Non-Fiction

The Bodies Must Be Piling Up

The Bodies Must Be Piling Up

I think that the coroner’s office is a pretty busy place. I tried calling them on Tuesday and the woman who answered the phone told me she would have to take a message because the phone was ringing off the hook. I tried to follow up by sending an email today. By the end of the day, still no love.

The bodies must be piling up!

Meanwhile, since I’m at a standstill on Gliese 581…I could still work on it, but I really want to get that specific chapter finished and it’s undone state is putting me off from wanting to work on it at all…I picked up my Start Your Own Housecleaning Biz book and got to work.

Cleaning a house today with my eldest made me think of it. I had plotted out an outline for it a while back (read that, YEARS back) and just hadn’t gotten around to writing anything out yet.

I could write this book in my sleep I know the material I am writing about so well!

I typed up the Introduction and moved into Getting Started. That garnered me over 3,000 words in short order. Then I went ahead and popped in the contents of a handout I have on making your own non-toxic cleaning products and that popped it up to over 4,600 words for today.

I don’t hold myself to the same word count requirements that I do for fiction. Whereas my personal preference is to write at least 80,000 in a fiction book, when it comes to non-fiction I write whatever is necessary to convey the basics. I think my first book Get Organized, Stay Organized was probably around 40,000 words. The War on Drugs: An Old Wives’ Tale was probably around 60,000 words.

I guess with non-fiction it becomes more of a “just the facts” and with fiction I want something for my readers to chew on for a while.

Now wouldn’t it be a hoot if I actually DID manage to get both books written and published this year?!




Making Me Think Here …

Making Me Think Here …

My second appointment of the day yesterday was with M.P. from Land Bank. Land Bank isn’t actually a BANK, that’s just the title of the entity that manages all of these abandoned/tax seized properties in Kansas City.

He had gamely accepted my request to interview him for the book I’m writing on buying a house (The Cottage that I go on and on about) from Land Bank for $25.

I’m still fussing over the title, which is problematic. In part, because it is specifically geared toward purchasing a house from Kansas City Land Bank, which is different from other land banks in the country and talks specifically about the programs available to Kansas City residents.

I could tell he is a little hesitant – and he visibly winced over the working title “I Bought a House for $25 (and so can you)” – because, as he pointed out, the situation is different for each property and each applicant.

My point was, if they never pick up the book, which will have some incredibly good resources, how will they learn some of the more important features about these programs that are available?

We talked for nearly two hours. I really like the guy, M.P. is funny, thoughtful, and smart. I left the meeting thinking really hard about how I can produce a book that is responsible, educational, and empowering.

I’m So Excited

I’m So Excited

And I just can’t hide it. I’m about to lose…

Stop right there! You are NOT going to start quoting song lyrics from the 70s!

Oh yeah, sorry about that. I’m not sure what came over me.

So anyway, after a long silence, I have news. The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale may be far bigger than I thought.

At least three people have read it, and all have had very positive things to say – one of them was rather vehement that I at least attempt to get this published through a traditional agent and publisher.

I had become sure that no one, no one, would want to read my book. I had dismissed it as self-indulgent memoir, but after getting feedback from others I am looking at the manuscript in a new light.

The vehement reader was my eldest, Danielle. She was quite insistent that I make some corrections, tighten up the research, and immediately begin searching for an agent. She was so insistent, that I offered her a co-authorship on the project. She accepted and we began the first emails/calls back and forth discussing our plan of attack.

  1. Settle on any additional add-ons to the book. Are there any additional chapters needed, any major shifting of discussion or emphasis?
  2. Research and quotes done correctly – yeah, I’ll admit it, I was lazy and used Wikipedia a “couple” of times!
  3. Get together a query letter and an outline of the book – NOW – and start shopping for an agent.

In the non-fiction world you can actually shop out a book before having even written a word. However, that is difficult if you are not an established author, so we need to have as much of the manuscript done, and a clear and concise outline in place, and one hell of a query letter – to be truly effective.

This is time sensitive after all. More and more states are moving towards legalization, the controversy and disparity between what the public demands and the lawmakers decree are growing larger by the moment.

I want this book to reach people who are on the fence. Who see nothing but the path to hellish addiction in any drug use and change their minds.

Today I mentioned my manuscript to an elderly patron of the library I know. She brings her granddaughter to story time each Tuesday. I told her, “The book is about our experiences in the drug war – when my husband was caught growing marijuana.”

“Good,” she said, “I’m glad they caught him.”

She’s a kind woman, and I was rather surprised by her statement, “Why do you think it is good?” I asked.

“Well, using marijuana leads to other more dangerous drugs.” She replied.

“My husband smoked pot for more than 20 years and he’s never once turned to other drugs.” I pointed out.

“Well, maybe not him, but most do.” She protested, “At least that’s what they say.”

Every wonder about that mysterious they? I’ve got a couple of books that reveal who they are, and they are inevitably lying.

“There are research studies, most of them done in other countries since it is an illegal substance here, that discuss that very fallacy.” I said.

My calm self-assured demeanor seemed to encourage her to ask more questions. She asked why people smoked it and what did it do? She also asked about how my husband had handled withdrawal when he stopped smoking.

I explained the feelings of relaxation, euphoria and increase of appetite. “That’s why it is recommended for cancer patients – it usually helps with pain control and the nausea from chemo.”

This struck a nerve with her. She had apparently gone through being treated for cancer and had chemo treatments which had robbed of her of her appetite. “The only thing I could bear to eat were Blizzards from Dairy Queen,” she said ruefully, “my husband would go and get six or seven of them and line them up in the freezer for me. For weeks that is all I could eat.”

We laughed and I told her that Dave had never experienced withdrawal symptoms when he stopped smoking.

I doubt I completely changed her mind, but I did bring up the ridiculous example of how we are no longer able to grow hemp in this country, although our Constitution was written on hemp. Hemp was a “must grow” crop that American colonists and later the citizens of the Early Republic era were required to grow.

In the end, I left the discussion feeling as if I may have changed her mind on several things. Or at the very least, I have given her something to think about. After hearing feedback from the rough draft readers, I have become convinced that this book has merit in a bigger audience than I might reach via self-publishing.

So here we go, on the roller coaster, and I’m excited at the idea that I’m not alone in this, but have a capable and talented young woman working beside me.

With all of that said, I’m off to work on some research – I’m reading a book by Judge Andrew Napolitano, Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History.

Meanwhile, Dee is reading Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure.

On we go!

An Old Wives Tale

An Old Wives Tale

I woke up this morning and realized, “It’s time.”

It has been nearly a year and a half now and it is time to share a story. It is my story, one that I, and our small family endured for over two years. Every day for those two years I kept daily notes, jotted down conversations, and talked a lot about the color of the day.

I realized that, although War’s End sequel is important, there is this story that needs to be told first. So I’ve jumped in with both feet. By the end of June, I will be announcing the publication of The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale.

Details will follow soon.

 

Annual Family Newsletter – Done!

Annual Family Newsletter – Done!

He he, I’m writing the annual family newsletter.

It’s been a couple of years – I just got busy and never got around to it. But plenty of family members have commented that they like receiving it, so I’m back on top of it this year.

I titled it “Shuck House” – the byline reads, “It’s odd, quirky and it’s all things Shuck”

Dave just has no sense of humor about his last name. I have wanted to name the newsletter, “Aw, Shuck It” or “Go Shuck Yourself” and he just looks at me with this pained expression.

Growing up with the last name of Sandfort – the best that people could do was tease me and say, “Oh, are you related to Sanford & Son?”

If you didn’t grow up in the 70s or earlier that is a reference to an old tv show. In any case, I didn’t have a name that could be used inventively by other children to torment me – so I’m pretty much immune to such things.

….update…

He’s read it, and only had one change. A typo, if you can believe that. So I’ve apparently fallen within the reasonable confines of proper Shuck name etiquette. Although really, “Go Shuck Yourself – the Shuck Family Newsletter” has such a cool ‘in your face’ kind of vibe. [sigh]

I’ll probably post it here eventually.

Welcome to My Website!

Welcome to My Website!

The purpose of this website and blog is to promote my writing – which you can currently find links to on the right (or here in this post).

Interested in reading my blogs? I have two public ones…

The Deadly Nightshade – a gardening, down-to-earth, get your sustainability movement on, grass roots, eco-friendly, et cetera.

The Homeschool Advocate – where I discuss all things parenting, homeschool, and learning-oriented

About a year ago, I started a blog titled “The Chronicles of Liv Rowan” which I have copied over to here, more content will follow.

I currently have two books in print and available for download. Those are:

Get Organized Stay Organized – a book that will get your home and paperwork organized and under control in just a few easy steps. Available as a trade paperback.

War’s End – A gritty story of survival in the face of insurmountable odds. Is it fiction? Or a forewarning of a all-too-possible future? Available in trade paperback or as a digital download.

Most of my posts here will be short and to the point (I hope). Writing about my writing seems…redundant.

That said, I recognize that there are two great reasons to write this blog:

  1. To promote my work. I can tell you to buy the books until I’m blue in the face, but maybe if you read my writing, you will be intrigued enough to want to find out just what these books have to offer.
  2. To encourage a better understanding – of me, of writing in general, and of the motivations we are all driven by – as different as they may be.

I’ve always been curious about others. Why do they do what they do? What were they thinking when they said what they said? And if you are curious too, then keep reading. Maybe we will entertain each other.